Thursday, April 10, 2008



I hesitate to interrupt Joan’s excellent writing of the Ashton Clot site, but there are occasions when I must defend myself after complete and unrestrained exposure in the blog. For me, it seems like a long time since the beginning of this journey, during which I have either been on radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery and surgical recovery, and then more chemotherapy…or all of the above. While at times I have felt human, mostly I have been under the influence of the therapy of the moment and blog vapors, and have only a fuzzy recollection, which, my wife assures me, is a good thing. I’m sure people who have talked to me during this process have wondered, “who is this guy”, or “maybe, after all, I don’t know this guy”. I apologize to those who have had such an experience, but I would agree that I’m not sure I knew this guy either.

Having said that, I am happy to report that I am beginning to feel human again, and I can see some of my old self (for better or worse) returning (except for the hair.) I realize now the far reaching effects this kind of therapy can have on a person, as I have begun to recover strength and some increased weight in the last few weeks. The thing I remember most during this time is the overwhelming support and expressions of love from so many family and friends (and fellow bloggers). I have been especially touched by the many ways people have offered their concern; from funny ‘knock-knock’ jokes from patients, to ‘prayer warriors’ in Texas who have never met me. During episodes when I was down, almost anesthetized by the process, your expressions of love and support through comments, prayers, positive thoughts, and other efforts have been deeply felt by me and my family. I will probably never understand the full benefit of everything you have done, but the effect of it all is that I have been granted a little more time. and terms like “cure” are still being bounced around among the doctors treating me. I can’t predict the future, but the present seems awfully nice, and I will work on making the most of it. With your help, I am hopeful about the process of recovery and achieving a bit of normalcy to my life. Thanks again for all you have done; I looked forward to seeing each of you as time goes by.

Love to all,


Dear Clotters,

Do not fear. I am not going to sing. Even I have a threshold for self abasement.

However, as you can tell, Dennis is feeling much stronger. His voice and his typing are far less garbled, and we don’t have to ask him to repeat himself as much. There were times when I couldn’t pick out any identifying words that would indicate the meaning of a sentence he had just uttered, and so I just said “OK, Dear.” I now realize that’s a “husband technique” that has been passed down through the generations since Adam. This experience has been very educational.

Dennis has endured so much these past few months, that I am glad he has “therapeutic amnesia.” (It gives a whole new meaning to the term, “Forget it!”) This has also been of great benefit in surviving our marriage! Last Tuesday his nose hose clogged up again. He flushed and flushed with all his might (which is not that much these days) but the syringe plunger would not budge. I suggested nitroglycerin and a plumber’s friend. (Can you say “eye roll?”) I assumed he dreaded another procedure at the hospital, and I was just getting ready to haul out the expletives, when there was a major attitude shift. In the finest tradition of “the nose hose is half full,” he told me he was experiencing some nostril erosion and was actually glad to alternate nasal passages. It was such a tender moment. Then he suggested that he drive up to the hospital, have the procedure done, and then drive home…by himself. (This time, I said “forget it!”) I knew one day he would emerge from that protective foggy stupor and discover I am expendable. But he didn’t expend me. We decided we could share a romantic get-away in the interventional radiology department while they were jamming the new pipe into his innards…just me, him, and the technicians. (Hey, after what we’ve been through, leave a tender moment alone!)

Dennis’ memory is actually more acute than I had thought at first. Recently, one of his partners, Sally Ormsby, stopped by for a visit, and the two of them got talking about the Whipple procedure Dr. Mulvihill had performed. You know, doc talk. I listened as Dennis casually described EXACTLY what had taken place during the operation. I hadn’t realized that he actually knew more details than I did (which didn’t require rocket science) It was like being in a gross anatomy class. Our surgeon must have accessed Map Quest to find the best route to the pancreas. I will not give a blow-by-blow account, but suffice it to say that…I didn’t know they could do that! I’m glad I didn’t know they could do that. I am sorry I know they did that! But bottom line, they put Humpty Dumpty (emphasis on “Dump”) together again. I am also glad I opted to major in English Literature…where I only had to dissect Shakespeare’s genius, not his organs!

By the way, I thought I would provide some clarification regarding the LOTOJA in September. Our nephew, Jesse, was considering attempting it, but wasn’t sure he was quite ready for such a sizable distance. But I just advised him to do what I’m going to do. Choose your method of transportation: biking, roller blading, water boarding…and go until you begin heavy breathing. Then attach yourself to the back of Dr. Kate O’s bike. I can tell you from personal experience, she will not let you fall behind. In fact, she will personally see that you reach the finish line…a victor! (So let's help her reach her $5,000 goal! Click here to participate! )

We have attempted multiple times to express our deep appreciation for all that has been done on our behalf. We are overwhelmed by it. Recently Dennis was sent some knock-knock jokes from some of his patients, and they had such healing power. Dennis laughed right out loud! I know there are times in life when we must go through the wilderness, but you have landscaped it with such lovely things. We will never be the same…and that is all good.

We love you all,

The Clot


New York Sims said...

I'm sorry I have been a bad commenter lately! (Is there such thing as a commenter?)

I am so, SO happy to see and hear all the miracles going on for you guys!! I cannot think of a family more deserving. I'll say it again....we pray for you, as a family, every single night. If I ever forget, we have to say another prayer because the kids freak out! I love it because now I can show them the amazing power of prayer.

Love you guys so much!!


Anonymous said...

Lookin GREAT!! What a difference a couple of weeks can make. Can't imagine a better place to celebrate than spending it in Disneyland...maybe even getting a picture with the good dwarfs will be a refreshing treat! Thanks again for keeping us updated! Chris

Marty said...

WOW- you look so good Dennis! (and of course so do you Joan!) And we know you must be feeling better to have blogged! Keep up the good work and you will be back to work in no time.

Paula said...

You are amazing! What a wonderful example of faith for the rest to follow. I would dare say that your positive attitudes and humor have had an important effect on your incredible progress. Dennis, it is so good to hear from you too.
I pray for you every day.
Love you guys!